Section: UK

The cost of dither and delay

Helen Davidson

On 23 May Jonathan Calvert, George Arbuthot, Jonathan Leake and Dipesh Gadher published an indictment of the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis. The Sunday Times report examines the government decision-making process in the crucial three weeks from 2–23 March as the number of cases in the UK rose from 14,000 to 1.5m. The report […]

Johnson’s SPAD digs him a hole

Anthony Robinson

The incredible revelations about Cummings and his 500-mile circular lockdown tours of County Durham filled the newspapers and the twittersphere all weekend.  The story is symptomatic of Cummings’ arrogance – as well as his coronavirus. He had breached the lockdown rules we learned, not once but twice. More than that, during one apparent breach he […]

The brutal truth about farming standards

Yorkshire Bylines

Joe Stanley is a farmer from the East Midlands. He describes himself as a conservationist, columnist and advocate for sustainability in food, farming & the environment. In a Twitter thread using data from a briefing by the National Farmers’ Union, he outlines the differences between our own UK food standards and those in the USA, […]

Kuenssberg’s impartiality under fire

Anthony Robinson

The revelations yesterday about Dominic Cummings’ apparent breach of the lockdown rules, travelling 250 miles to his parents’ home in County Durham while experiencing the symptoms of coronavirus, has sparked a flurry of activity on Twitter about the impartiality of the BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg. She has long been seen by some as too […]

State of Happiness: a confident, clean break from Scandi noir

Séamus O’Hanlon

This Norwegian drama is tailor-made for English-speaking audiences; a small-town setting that overnight is invaded by alluring American strangers, stuffy legislators and big oil itself, all looking for the next boom. The series starts with a charismatic Texan, arrogantly determined that there is still plenty of oil off the Norwegian coast. Stavanger is a small […]

Primary schools are not yet safe places for our children

Dr Pam Jarvis

On 20 May, ITV news reported that four out of five local authorities in West Yorkshire have refused to enforce the reopening of schools in their area, and are instead leaving the decision to Head Teachers, who are ultimately responsible for the health and safety of children in their care. Various concerns have been raised […]

Where’s Boris with the hurty knee, Hecate?

Hecate

It’s not just that something stinks. It’s that consensus is growing that, as @DerekJames150 puts it, “Corruption in the UK is alive and well and living at 10 Downing Street!” Commentators around the world boldly remark on what they see as something rotten at the heart of British government. Twitter juxtaposed Trump, Putin, Johnson and […]

An exhausted government, an exhausted civil service

Dr Stella Perrott

As the government lumbers heavily towards its third ‘no-deal’ Brexit deadline, it has strongly asserted that there will be no extension to the transition period. Stella Perrott considers the government’s capacity to deliver a managed Brexit over the coming weeks in the light of the findings of the recent publication of the Institute for Government […]

Barnier sinks Johnson’s negotiating strategy

Anthony Robinson

Michel Barnier issued a sharp response to the letter sent by UK chief negotiator David Frost on Tuesday with a missive of his own on Wednesday. It is as if the negotiations have burst out into the public realm with Britain abandoning face-to-face talks to try and convince us that the EU is just being […]

NHS at risk from new Trade Bill

Brian Batson

Whilst we are all preoccupied, rightly, with trying to survive the coronavirus pandemic the government is forging ahead with its Brexit agenda. Today, Wednesday 20 May, a Trade Bill will receive its second reading in the House of Commons. This Bill is paving legislation for the government to open trade negotiations with other countries, principally […]

UK chief negotiator bleats EU not offering us a ‘fair’ trade deal

Anthony Robinson

The British government is discovering what it is to be a third country. Having published its near 300-page draft legal text yesterday, after the third round of talks ended last week with “very little progress”, our chief negotiator has now written to Michel Barnier complaining the EU is not offering us what we want. David […]

Cowan’s plague journal

Alistair Cowan

So recently I learned from “Everything I Do I Do it for You” hit-maker Bryan Adams that coronavirus was definitely caused by Chinese wet markets. Lockdown hasn’t even lasted as long as that song was No 1, and I know which seemed to last longer. Bryan Adams has an interesting face in that, much like […]

Express and Telegraph spread fake news about no deal job losses

Anthony Robinson

Fake news isn’t only a social media problem. Politicians and the national press are equally good at it (or bad, depending on your point of view) but they’re far more dangerous because they seem more plausible. Yesterday, the Express ran an article that appeared to show a study by a highly respected German institute indicating […]

The Telegraph confirms Yorkshire Bylines story

Anthony Robinson

Ten days after Yorkshire Bylines published a story concerning the flawed computer code used by professor Neil Ferguson at Imperial College to model behavioural strategies for Covid-19, the Telegraph have written their own report: Modelling behind lockdown was an unreliable buggy mess, claim experts – essentially confirming the details. The Telegraph provides more expert evidence […]

Choose your pandemic leader – would Boris make the cut?

Beanna Olding

It’s a Tuesday morning on 23 July 2019, and Boris Johnson has just won 66 per cent of the Conservative Party members’ vote, meaning that he is now our new prime minister. In a characteristically jovial speech, Johnson chimes that even some of his own supporters may “wonder quite what they have done”. Retrospectively, this […]

Government U-turn in track and trace fiasco?

Juliet Lodge

The government seems yet again caught in trying to find its own makeshift solution for controlling the coronavirus pandemic. After abandoning the initial herd immunity strategy in favour of the World Health Organisation approach of test, trace and isolate that has seen much lower mortality wherever it was adopted, UK authorities seem on the brink […]

Our Plan to Fail: the UK Government’s Covid-19 relapse strategy

Helen Davidson

The government’s announcement of the publication of its 60-page strategy, Our Plan to Rebuild, for reopening the country, quickly turned a sensible and pragmatic approach to easing lockdown into an unnecessary scramble to rescue the government from another mess of its own making. Helen Davidson discusses how the indecent haste to implement the strategy coupled […]

Disagreement over schools reopening

Charlie McCarthy

With five working days left until schools are meant to reopen for nursery, reception, Year 1 and Year 6 children, doubts remain over their role in spreading the virus. This debate about children as vectors of the virus is becoming critical. Osama Rahman is director of analysis at the Department for Education (DfE) and chief […]

Testing the tests – false negatives and testing errors

Helen Davidson

Discussion about the number of tests completed each day continues unabated. In the meantime, the low rate of home testing kits being returned – and their error rate, which may be as high as 30 per cent – goes largely unreported. Based on accounts of people self-testing, Helen Davidson examines why the failure rate might […]

Domestic abuse: the lockdown effect

Barbara Lodge

In an overwhelming understatement on 5 April, UN Secretary General António Guterres defined war as a “non-essential activity” and called for a global ceasefire to allow the world to concentrate on the coronavirus pandemic. Less reported was his call to end to all violence, from the battlefield to the home. The UN is concerned that around […]

Nadine Dorries in ‘doctored video’ storm

Anthony Robinson

Twitter had gone into meltdown this morning after a doctored video of Keir Starmer was retweeted by several leading politicians including Nadine Dorries, MP and Junior Minister at the Department of Health. Her retweet has since been deleted. Unfortunately for her, it was captured and tweeted by plenty of others, including Paul Waugh, political editor […]

Fuelling the recovery: the case for raising fuel duty

Helen Davidson

With a £337 billion hole in Britain’s finances, the chancellor, Rishi Sunak is urgently looking for ways to plug it. In a time of plummeting petrol prices, Helen Davidson examines how increasing fuel tax could help fund the coronavirus debt, assist the government’s gradual easing of lockdown and have only a marginal impact on consumers. […]

Looking over the edge: Brexit just got serious.

Anthony Robinson

EU Legal guru warns UK it’s later than you think In a move calculated to focus minds on both sides of the Channel, a former Director General of the EU’s legal services department has delivered a stark warning, one that will echo particularly strongly in Whitehall. Unless an extension to the transition period is agreed […]

Treasury warns of “sovereign debt crisis” caused by Covid-19

Anthony Robinson

The Telegraph has got hold of a leaked Treasury document warning of a “sovereign debt crisis” unless the economy soon begins to recover from the seven-week coronavirus lock down. On 1 April, a week after the lockdown was announced, Yorkshire Bylines ran an article: Coronavirus and Brexit: double austerity on steroids is coming up which now […]

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